On June 23 registered voters of UK voiced their opinions whether to stay in EU or not, where 17.4 million people voted for UK to become the first country to leave the EU. It was the second time when the referendum happened, first being in 1975 where 67% voted to remain in EU. (that happened because it was still thought that Britain’s economy doesn’t match that of EEC’s). Its been two years but still Britain remains as divided over this as it was. On one hand there are talks of second referendum while on the other hand 100,000 people are marching on the streets with slogans” people’s choice, proper choice” and “Rethink Brexit, Renew Britain”.
Its said its better to have a look at your history before deciding your future. It sounds strange but Britain has never been a nation. It came into existence in 1707 through union of Kingdoms of England and Scotland. In 1948 (after Decolonization) the empire was transformed into Commonwealth and Britain entered the EU in 1973. One thing which didn’t click anyone was the impact of the globalization. Brexit is a representation of “delayed resentment” at the loss of Empire and the loss of comforts/privileges which came with it. Following this history, the vote for Brexit is a testimonial against multi-cultural community and about the question of legitimacy of belonging of those who appear different from others.
British Nationality Act 1948 gave way to two forms of British Citizenship-
- Common Shared Citizenship– where you can be a citizen of UK and its colony.
- Commonwealth Citizenship– previously colonized by Britain and now a part of commonwealth.
According to 1961 consensus 5 percent of total population in Britain was Foreign born.
For most part of its history Britain has always been a multi-cultural entity and its seeds were not sown in 1948, it always has been there, so why now question these ethnic differences? Britain always had a “Eurosceptic” stand- whether its not allowing passport free travel in UK or using pound as a currency. Though the thing to be considered is that is Brexit right or wrong comes later but Brexit is a loss for both the parties involved. 45% of trade of UK is with EU. Their separation is a loss-loss situation for both. The graph given below depicts how the pound depreciated drastically right after the polls.
Gurminder Bhambra in TedTalks mentioned that “the most dominant narrative after Brexit which came out was that Brexit has been delivered by the disenfranchised, left behind northern white working class who were upset of the process of globalization and the lack of possibility of success within the country. But the Typical voter was not northern middle class but southern, pensioned people and likely to be from white middle class.” What followed after Brexit was a lot of blame game – where the young blamed the old and literate blamed the illiterate. In Alexander Betts’ words” What Brexit teaches us is that -Contemporary politics is not just about right and left and about tax and spend. It’s about globalization. The fault line of contemporary politics is between those who embrace globalization and those who fear globalization.” Slowly the definition of globalization is changing and becoming more in line with protectionism. Brexit appears to follow the same. It’s also a representation of people wanting to take control back on their lives- which is symbolic to alienation, and it doesn’t augur well for anyone.
The apparition of Brexit is everywhere, the need is to make globalization more inclusive and more readily available to those who have been unprivileged and unpersuaded by the narrative that we quite often find persuasive in our innocuous lives. Kofi Annan said “The glass house of globalization has to be open to all if it is to remain secure. Bigotry and ignorance are the ugly face of exclusionary and antagonistic globalization”. Globalization should neither be an elite agenda nor a Robin Hood. It has to be a responsible sieve of judgment which benefits all and everyone.
Though there are no clear answers but according to a poll conducted by YouGov 47% people thought they were wrong to leave. But again, the margin difference is similar to the Brexit polls and the figures have been changing ever since.
The thing to be considered is that the lavish promises of the leave camp would never have been fulfilled whether its health care funding or other flashy hopes. While the leavers still continue to keep their hopes high, pragmatics have begun to have ‘a reality check’. Somehow people are coming to this realization that leaving Brexit is not just a ‘Hard Brexit’ but a dent to their high/false hopes. The ongoing year is a crucial phase as it will clear out the conundrum surrounding whether there will be a ‘real Brexit’ or not. As the doubts looming have caught pace and a sense of realization that leaving EU is a huge loss is prevalent. The repercussions will be on both sides. How both the sides find their winning formula is the real question.
By: Deep Chaudhary